San Francisco Bay-area delivery restaurant Man vs Fries opens a location on Spring Street in Midtown Atlanta Monday, December 21, founder William Bonhorst tells Eater. The restaurant serves build-your-own straight-cut or curly fry concoctions as loaded French fry plates, burritos, or quesadillas.
Bonhorst describes Man vs Fries as a “French fry lover’s dream,” with people choosing between seasoned French fry styles, followed by toppings, like carne asada or pollo asado, and finally how they want fries made — either NorCal-style with cheese, sour cream, and guacamole or SoCal-style with grilled onions, cilantro, and jalapeños. The menu also features the over-stuffed tostada Cali Crunch filled with meat of choice, lettuce, tomato, cheese, cilantro, onions, guacamole, and spiked ranch and the option to add hot Doritos or Cheetos.
“Atlanta holds a special place in my heart. My father was born in the South, spending time in Georgia as a young man, and we would listen to tapes of his ‘oldies but goodies’ when I was growing up, and Ray Charles’ ‘Georgia on my mind’ was his favorite,” Bonhorst says of opening a location in Atlanta. “My father passed away recently, and I wish we could have listened to my favorite [Atlanta] artist T.I. together, but there is always hope to do so with my kids one day.”
Man vs Fries will only be available for delivery via third party services such as DoorDash when it opens. Bonhorst says once the pandemic ends, he plans to allow customers to walk up and order directly from the restaurant.
Bonhorst first launched Man vs Fries as a pop-up in 2018, running the operation out of restaurant kitchens throughout the San Francisco Bay area. He opened the first permanent location of Man vs Fries later that year in East Oakland, which now serves as the restaurant’s headquarters.
Partnered with ghost kitchen and restaurant incubator Reef Kitchens, Bonhorst recently opened locations of Man vs Fries in Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Houston. It’s the first Black-owned restaurant to partner with Reef Kitchens.
Delivery-only restaurant concepts, like Man vs Fries, continue to thrive during the pandemic. Euromonitor, a market research firm, estimated these virtual restaurants could become a $1 trillion business over the next decade.
For restaurants in financial crisis as the pandemic drags on and a federal bailout plan for small businesses awaits congressional approval, opening a ghost kitchen provides an additional revenue source. Ghost kitchens also allow for a certain amount of flexibility in the market, with the ability to quickly adapt a menu to the changing tastes of customers. Enterprising chefs and food producers use ghost kitchens to test out new business ideas or as a stepping stone to eventually open a permanent restaurant.
Chef Nick Leahy, who recently launched delivery-only restaurant Chicken Out from his full-service Brady Avenue restaurant Nick’s Westside, says the decision to open a ghost kitchen just makes sense for his business during the health crisis.
“As a restaurant owner and a chef, I believe that being nimble is the best way to hedge against the uncertainty and the challenges we’ve experienced during the pandemic,” Leahy told Eater recently.
Like Leahy, Yumbii and the Queso Truck owner Carson Young seized the opportunity to expand his cheese dip and taco food truck business into a permanent location, without the overhead costs of a full-service restaurant.
“During the pandemic, we saw the rise of ghost kitchens and virtual restaurants, and we think those are here to stay,” Young said of his forthcoming Piedmont Heights takeout and delivery restaurant the Queso Shop. Young plans to add more dishes to the food truck’s current menu for the Queso Shop, including offering family meals, margarita mixes, and loaded crispy tater tots.
1020 Spring Street NW, Atlanta. manvsfries.com.
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- A New Ghost Kitchen Serving Chicken Dishes Pops Up on Atlanta’s Westside [EATL]